Family, California

The Sweet Spot: WorldSchool101

The Sweet Spot

  1. The spot on a bat or racket at which the makes the most effective contact.
  2. An optimum point or combination of factors or qualities.
  3. That elusive spot where family, career, health and happiness are in balance.

Charles Kramer is an accomplished producer who found early success editing The Osbournes, and over the past fifteen years he rose up to become co-executive producer on thirty-three series ranging from The Ultimate Fighter, to Street Outlaws. However, all that is changing. Charles is walking away from his demanding but lucrative career to seek a new sweet spot.

On June 19th, 2016, he and his wife Brenna, their daughter Kerala, age 7, and their son Julian, age 4, are leaving on a year long trip around the world, living in seventeen different countries and homeschooling their kids along the way.

When the Shift Happened—

On Memorial Day of last year, Charles was walking out the door for a family adventure at the beach when he got a call from his boss asking him to come in to work on a musical performance show — a show that he had worked on July 4th the year before. Charles had vowed then that he wouldn’t work another holiday away from his family, but he broke his promise to himself and went in, for no extra pay.     He did the work, but something had changed; the pay and the excitement were no longer worth the sacrifices he was making. That night, after railing against his situation, his wife Brenna asked him, “What do you want to do? Quit your job and live in Spain?”  

 “Yes,” he said, and his life changed in that moment.

Although the start of his trip would be over a year away, simply committing to this new goal made him happier. He went into work the next day with a lightness so apparent that people remarked how different he seemed, and that lightness has stayed with him. 

Charles and Brenna expanded their dream to a year of world travel with their two children. The amount of planning has been tremendous, with no guarantee of success — but TV production requires an amazing amount of work with no guarantee of success either.

The Schedule —

They depart June 19, 2016 and will visit seventeen countries, for three to four weeks each. Europe first — the Netherlands, Ireland, France, Italy, and Spain. They then head towards the southern hemisphere as summer starts there. Africa in December — Morocco, South Africa, and then either Tanzania or Namibia. Then they head to South America and visit Chile, Argentina, Peru, Ecuador, and the Galapagos. In April, they cross the Pacific and visit New Zealand, Bali, Thailand, and finish their trip with a month in Japan. They return to LAX on July 21, 2017.

Home, House, Mortgage, Bills —

They’re not giving up their home, but they are exchanging it. On sites like HomeExchange.com, they met people who have beautiful homes in remote locales who miss what they can get in a city like Los Angeles, so they got some amazing swaps. They had a huge garage sale and sold many of their belongings, and Charles is also selling his car.

Paying for Travel —

They booked inexpensive flights far in advance, through sites like Scott Keyes and scottscheapflights.com. They signed up for credit cards that gave bonus miles for joining and with every purchase, then paid them off, cancelled them, and signed up for more, earning enough miles for half their flights. They also have about 10 sponsors for their trip — products, tours, and travel sites that have also helped them afford this adventure. They also plan to mix it up; they may volunteer to work on an organic farm,  or go camping, then splurge on a five star hotel.

Learning and School —

Just like there are communities of home schoolers and “unschoolers,” the Kramer family is now in the “world school” community. Both Kerala and Julian will have structured school time every morning for three to four hours, after which they’ll continue their lessons in the world. While regular school runs for six hours a day, it’s been shown that only 1/6 of that time is actual learning. They have a planned curriculum and gotten support from child development experts like Betsy Brown Braun. They are confident that Kerala will be ready for third grade and Julian will be ready for kindergarten when they return.

Earning Money along the Way —

Their trip will be televised (sort of). Charles will run an Indiegogo campaign to raise money to hire someone to help him shoot video and do overall production tasks throughout the trip. They will initially post clips to YouTube and grow a following on social media, while also writing a blog. Charles hopes to gain enough subscribers and sponsors to make money while traveling, and when he returns he hopes to get the funding to send another family on their own adventure next year, which would become “Season Two,” of an ongoing series…and new career?

What he’s Looking Forward to the Most —

Charles says that the two greatest regrets people have on their deathbeds is not spending time with their kids, and not traveling, and this accomplishes both. There also is no better time for his family to do this. If he waits another year or two, this window of opportunity will close. He also knows it won’t be easy, but he equates it to having a baby. It’s a lot work, it’s going to hurt like hell sometimes, but the end result will be something they will love forever. 

I will keep you posted about The Kramer World Tour as they proceed. 

His site is constantly being update, but check it out, subscribe for updates, catch their highs and lows and see their progress:

www.worldschool101.com 

and

http://www.worldschool101.com/worldschool-blog.html

Here are some helpful links too:

http://www.edventuregirl.com/10-ways-world-schooling-has-ruined-my-childhood/

http://www.theguardian.com/travel/2016/jan/29/is-world-schooling-kids-selfish-family-travel-edventures

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reggio_Emilia_approach

http://betsybrownbraun.com

California, Best of California Bull

Los Angeles Schools have their first Snow Day! Sorry, I mean Terror Day.

Los Angeles Schools have their first Snow Day! Sorry, I mean Terror Day.

My friends who grew up in Wisconsin wax nostalgic about days when they lifted the blinds and saw so much snow they knew they’d soon hear on the radio that school was cancelled for the day. They’d play Monopoly in their pajamas until their parents barked at them to read a book.

In California, we have our own version of snow days now — I call them Terror Days. 

We started small, with lock-down days. My daughter Lily is in fifth grade, and in the last six years she has had three lock-down days when nearby criminals were enough of a threat that her school stopped classes and locked the doors against possible invasion.

In Kindergarten, a wanted murderer was captured by police in the apartment complex next to the school, and Lily and her school mates spotted him as he tried to elude police. In second grade, bank robbers were cornered in the neighborhood and the doors got shut. This past summer, someone “committed suicide by cop” on Ventura Blvd, and Lily was caught for hours in her summer camp class. She takes these lock-downs in stride, however. They are part of her childhood now. 

“Were you scared?” I ask. 

“No, we closed the blinds and watched Frozen and Wreck it Ralph. It was fun.”

Growing up in California, I did earthquake drills where we’d dive under our desks. Now they also have terror drills where the kids and teacher prep for armed intruders. 

This week she got her first full Terror Day, where Lily missed the whole day of school — just like the kids in Wisconsin who skip school for Snow Days.

This is the e-mail that was sent to a member of the school board that prompted shutting down all of LAUSD schools and most private schools in Los Angeles.

TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN:

I am emailing you to inform you of the happenings on Tuesday, 12/15/15.

Something big is going down. Something very big. It will make national headlines. Perhaps, even international ones. You see, my last 4 years here at one of the district high schools has been absolute hell. Pure, unmitigated, agony. The bullying, the loneliness, the rejection... it is never-ending. And for what? Just because I'm 'different'?

No. No more. I am a devout Muslim, and was once against violence, but I have teamed up with a local jihadist cell as it is the only way I'll be able to accomplish my massacre the correct way. I would not be able to do it alone. Me, and my 32 comrades, will die tomorrow in the name of Allah. Every school in the L.A. Unified district is being targeted. We have bombs hidden in lockers already at several schools. They are strategically placed and are meant to crumble the foundations of the very buildings that monger so much hate and discrimination. They are pressure cooker bombs, hidden in backpacks around the schools. They are loaded with 20 lbs. of gunpowder, for maximum damage. They will be detonated via Cell Phone. Not only are there bombs, but there are nerve gas agents set to go off at a specific time: during lunch hour. To top it off, my brothers in Allah and I have Kalashnikov rifles, Glock 18 Machine pistols, and multiple handheld grenades. The students at every school in the L.A. Unified district will be massacred, mercilessly. And there is nothing you can do to stop it.

If you do end up trying to, by perhaps, beefing up security, or canceling classes for the day, it won't matter. Your security will not be able to stop us. We are an army of Allah. If you cancel classes, the bombings will take place regardless, and we will bring our guns to the streets and offices of Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Bakersfield, and San Diego.

I wish you the best luck. It is time to pray to allah, as this may be your last day.

The e-mail was a hoax, but with the San Bernardino mass slaying being so close in time and space, I don’t blame LAUSD and the private schools for taking a cautious approach.

Lily thought Terror Day was great. She enjoyed a playdate with her friend Ruby most of the day until I phoned home and told her she should read for an hour.

This is my daughter’s baseline. This is her “normal.” I understand -- growing up I had a baseline of "normal"  that included some scary stuff too.

I didn’t fear earthquakes; in fact, I looked forward to them. Nor did I fear California’s famous serial killers and kidnappers who popped up twice a decade. They became Bogeymen in our scary stories that we’d use to torture our younger brothers and sisters — The Zodiac Killer is coming to get you…Treefrog Johnson is coming to get you…the Night Stalker is Coming to Get You…The Hillside Strangler is coming to get you.

Lily’s generation already has serial killers like Richard Ramirez to worry about, along with the kidnapper who chains you in a shack and rapes you for ten year before you can escape, and the men with guns who shoot it out with the cops on the main street of Studio City. But now she must also worry about the jihadist who was bullied as a kid who wants to kill dozens of students -- that's a reality I never had to face.

I hear her talking with friends, making up stories about all of them. I encourage the stories; they will help her and her friends make sense of her world, and help them to remain vigilant and observant in case something horrible does happen.

This is her childhood, and these are her Bogeymen. I just hope they stay in her stories and never become real. I know however, that this week's Terror Day won't be the last.

Here is a link to an article from the Los Angeles Times:

http://eedition2.latimes.com/Olive/ODE/LATimes2/LandingPage/LandingPage.aspx?href=TEFULzIwMTUvMTIvMTY.&pageno=MQ..&entity=QXIwMDEwMQ..&view=ZW50aXR5